Hockey YOG qualifier looms

27 February 2014

Nine talented young athletes will become the first to represent Australia in an official international Hockey5s competition after being selected for the Australian under 18 men’s squad to compete at the Youth Olympic Games Qualifying Tournament in Vanuatu next month. 

The nine man squad features Perth-born twins the Benetti brothers – James and Simon, Isaac Farmillo (Tamworth, NSW), Danny Fletcher (Brisbane, QLD), Sean Gibbs (Mackay, QLD), Tim Howard (Wakerley, QLD), Kurt Lovett (Parkes, NSW), Andrew Scanlon (Werribee, VIC) and Hayden Walker (Perth, WA). Final selection was made following the Hockey Australia Futures Camp held in Brisbane last week.

Endorsed by the International Hockey Federation (FIH), Hockey5s is the officially sanctioned complementary version of the sport featuring fewer players and simpler rules than hockey’s traditional 11-a-side version.

Led by former Kookaburra and current New South Wales Institute of Sport Head Coach David Guest, the Australian team will be looking to qualify for the 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China, which take place 16-28 August. To do so they must finish in the top two of the four team qualifying tournament taking place in Port Vila from 8-11 March. If successful, they will join talented young athletes from other sports as part of the Australian Olympic Committee’s 90-strong delegation to the Youth Olympic Games.  

Speaking about the tournament, Head Coach David Guest said, “It’s fantastic that at under 18 level our athletes have the opportunity to go through an Olympic qualifying process, similar to that we would for a Junior World Cup or senior Olympic Games.” 

While Australia’s exposure to the new high energy format has been limited, Guest believes lots can be taken from similarities to indoor hockey and from the recent Futures Camp held in Brisbane. 

“We haven’t seen a lot of the Hockey5s format but there’s plenty we can take from indoors. The boards along the sides and back lines open up the field and if we use them well can effectively create an extra couple of players. I’ve been calling it ‘box hockey’; it’s a game of angles and high intensity running, it changes the dynamics of how you pass and interact with teammates.

“I’ll be placing a heavy emphasis on the fact it’s a qualifying event and we won’t be getting ahead of ourselves. But, if we do qualify for the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing then the lead up to that will also provide good insight into what it takes to prepare for an Olympics.”

The round-robin format will see Australia meet Fiji, New Zealand and Vanuatu. The top two sides – which will both be guaranteed a place at the Youth Olympic Games - will play off in the final with third and fourth also playing off against one another. 

Should Australia qualify for the Youth Olympic Games a further selection process will be undertaken for that squad at the U18 National Championships in Canberra in April. 

Australian U18 men’s squad- Youth Olympic Games Qualifying Tournament, Port Vila, Vanuatu, 8-11 March 2014
[Athlete (Hometown)  Position  Age (at 12.2.14)]

James Benetti (Perth, WA) Defender 17

Simon Benetti (Perth, WA) Defender 17

Isaac Framilo (Tamworth, NSW) Forward 16

Danny Fletcher (Brisbane, QLD) Midfielder 16

Sean Gibbs (Mackay, QLD) Midfielder 18

Tim Howard (Wakerley, QLD) Midfielder 17

Kurt Lovett (Parkes, NSW) Forward 17

Andrew Scanlon (Werribee, VIC) Defender 17

Hayden Walker (Perth, WA) Goalkeeper 17

Australia’s Fixtures for YOGQ:Saturday 8th, 3.45pm local time, 3.45pm AEST, 12.45pm AWST , Australia v. Vanuatu Sunday 9th, 3.45pm local time, 3.45pm AEST, 12.45pm AWST, Australia v. New ZealandMonday 10th, 2.30pm local time, 2.30pm AEST, 11.30pm AWST, Australia v. FijiFinals Tuesday 11th, time TBC

Key features of Hockey5s and significant differences to 11-a-side format

• Five players on each side as opposed to traditional 11-a-side. Up to four rolling substitutes.

• Smaller pitch (55m long x 41.7m wide) played across a half of a full-sized pitch. Boundary boards keep the ball in play along the sidelines and backline.

• Matches last 45 minutes comprising three periods of 15 minutes with two minute breaks between periods – as opposed to 70 minutes comprising two 35 minute halves in 11-a-side.

• No shooting circle / ‘D’. Goals may be scored from anywhere on the pitch and by any team member, including goalkeepers who may score with their stick.

• Penalty corners replaced by a ‘challenge’, a one-on-one contest between an attacker and the defending goalkeeper within the new ‘11 metre’ area. 

• There must always be a winner. In the event of a tie after 45 minutes a two minute period of ‘golden goal’ extra time is played with each side removing a player for that period. In the event that a golden goal is not scored after two minutes’ play, another two minutes are played and another player removed by each team. This continues until a goal is scored.

Hockey Australia is proud to work with the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) and is grateful to it for the support that it receives from the AOC in preparing teams for the Olympic Games and Youth Olympic Games. 

Hockey Australia

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